Michigan-TCU film: Horned Frogs’ offense is potent, but can their defense hang in?

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Jim Harbaugh doesn’t like comparisons. professional or university? Coke or Pepsi? Excel or Google Sheets? You can ask him, but the answer is usually the same.

“Someone always fades,” he says.

However, there are exceptions to that rule. For example, when Harbaugh was talking about his J.J. McCarthy, Michigan quarterback earlier this year, he said – unpromptedly – that his star his sophomore year was actually someone: himself. said to remind me.

“Nobody loves[football]more than I do,” Harbaugh said in McCarthy’s first outing starter after Michigan’s win in Iowa on Oct. 1. “He’s better than me.” But he reminds me of a young Jimmy Harbaugh.”

I’ve long argued that in terms of players and personalities, a more apt comparison is made here, but now it’s former Michigan (and upcoming Iowa) quarterback Cade McNamara. But I digress. It’s Harbaugh’s right as a former first-rounder to compare his old style to McCarthy’s, but there will be a different lens he’ll look at on New Year’s Eve.


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No. 2 Michigan and No. 3 TCU will face off in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday for a national championship game and all that goes with it. How can this behave?

If you have a quarterback playing high-level college football To do Remember the Harbour of old. This is Max Duggan from TCU.

Harbaugh was perhaps the more consistent passer in terms of accuracy and skill. But the ability to make unplanned plays from in and out of pocket, the ability to handle complex attacks at a young age, the mental courage to do what it takes to make that attack work and act – Duggan is all off the charts. These areas that were young Harbaugh’s calling cards are out of place.

In order to tap out Duggan, you need to breathe out of Duggan’s body. it’s not happening. The body-on-the-line scrambles people saw on third downs and critical spots during Big 12 title game performances weren’t a one-time thing.they are not 1 year stuff, either. Duggan has been playing football like this for TCU since Gary Patterson started him as a freshman in 2019.

As TCU transitions from Paterson to Sonny Dykes, Duggan’s stock in the eyes of talent evaluators may be able to make an impact on the NFL’s building from a hard-working, quality college starter. You’ve progressed to a high IQ competitor.

It is difficult to defend against all TCU attacks. Because Dykes’ system essentially forces you to pay attention to every blade of (fake) turf out there. Almost all execution TCU calls come with a path tag or have execution path options. Duggan’s specialty, many quick games of horned frogs, feature both fronts and backs.



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Example: If you see Duggan throwing a quick hitch at the twins or tripping to one side of the field, the odds are backwards and another receiver/TE is making a similar action on the other side.

Much like Josh Hupel’s offense in Tennessee, TCU’s system spreads the defense in formation. This helps widen Duggan’s pitching window where play-to-play accuracy can be erratic. If you’re going to put pressure on Duggan, you better go home. It should be fast enough if you want to play man coverage on those spots. (Note: The following clip is sped up by design.)

There are 3 clips in this. The first is his RPO on the backside, noting that a ferocious linebacker has little impact on how his Duggan throws this ball. Duggan hasn’t seen players coming towards him. he just doesn’t care. He’s going to stand there and make that throw no matter what. It is done exactly as it is here.

The second play is another third and medium, in this case the passing concept. Duggan, as always, sees everything. If one of his guys stepped on one of your guy’s hes, that’s a problem.

The final look is the 3rd and 16th completions against Texas. His TCU attack, led by Duggan, is posted only to illustrate the few facts in the country that have answers to the third and eternal situation.

Michigan cornerers DJ Turner, Gemon Green and Will Johnson have stood out in the men’s coverage this season, but TCU’s best player in terms of NFL ability is 6-foot-4 junior receiver Quentin Johnston. Horned Frogs can’t quite match Ohio State’s array of WR talent, but Marvin Harrison Jr. may be the best WR in the country, regardless of class. The closest thing a Michigan secondary has seen to the Buckeyes this year.

You could spend all day on Johnston’s highlights, but remember, he’s only had five of TCU’s 31 touchdown catches. So does (beasting the defensive back in the play above). He’s one of the most underrated teams on this offense, and TCU’s runs are key to his game. I have a TD catch.

Michigan has the top tackle defense in America this season, according to Pro Football Focus. However, TCU’s run game could spell trouble for the Wolverines if that tackle goes off Saturday. While TCU’s offensive line likely falls short of Michigan’s defensive front in terms of sheer physicality (senior guard Steve Avila is a legitimate NFL prospect), the Horned Frogs play with high IQs. I have an athletic front that works. Running back Kendre Miller (1,342 rushing yards, 17 touchdowns) is as slippery as he is tough.



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Blake Colm was Michigan’s ace behind the top offensive line in America this season. He finished the year with 73 missed tackles (per PFF). This is a top 10 number nationally. Miller has forced 69 missed tackles through the same number of games. His average yardage after contacts per carry (3.61) is higher than Corum.

TCU’s offense has the talent, planning, and quarterbacks to score points against Michigan, especially in a weather-controlled environment.

What about the other side of the ball?

So this should be interesting. And my guess would actually be one of his two methods: Or the Horned Frogs, who run a defense designed to dare the team to run the ball, “spill and kill” to frustrate Harbaugh’s offense long enough for Duggan to have a chance to make the best of the second half. “intend to.

Michigan has the most diverse schemes in Power 5 and basically a healthy run game. Co-offensive coordinator Sheron Moore, who won the Joe Moore Award for the second year in a row this month, is one of the top offensive line coaches in the sport. The Wolverines are his 13-0 record, and frankly, he’s only two teams (Illinois and Iowa) that nearly thwarted Michigan’s rushing offense.

The TCU defense coached by Joe Gillespie is not the same one Patterson revolutionized during his historic run on this program. But Patterson’s principles are everywhere in college football these days, including his old home.

The Patterson-built TCU defense was a master of flexibility in an era that relied on football without positioning and couldn’t even spell words. Gillespie’s 3-3-5 also relies on some positionless type, a defensive his back who can run down the alley and tackle like a linebacker. The TCU lives on a strange front for the most part. A stack of two he uses a linebacker. Its responsibility is more or less to break down one gap and ‘spill’ the ball to the boundary.

The clip above is from TCU’s win over Texas, which is probably the closest schedule to what Michigan has in terms of offensive lines. (No just Same — not even the same ballpark, really — but the closest ballpark. )

Anyway, watch out for the odd front (three down linemen) and the two stacked linebackers standing behind them. His two defenders in Overhang Force are both safe: Mark Perry (No. 3) and Millard Bradford (No. 28). As you can see from Bradford, they are not afraid to run north-south to eliminate aggressive linemen. Their job is to finish the play on the edge or funnel the ball back.

There are seven gaps up front and Horned Frogs have the answers for all of them, along with free hitters who will be tackling. TCU’s defense is no slouch, even in tackles. Horned Frogs ranks him 16th. Everyone on the field can tackle blocks and play.

Michigan’s offense has just seen a version of 3-3-5 in Ohio State’s group led by Jim Knowles, a much more talented defense that Michigan settled for 252 rushing yards (without Colm). This TCU defense of his tackles similarly to the Ohio State group, but the comparison ends there.



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For TCU, this will be the biggest test of the season. No Big 12 team runs the ball like Michigan. That conference has teams that use some of the most unique and creative offensive concepts (Kansas is a great example), but the Michigan offense does that too, making every offensive line spot (and most backup spots) ) with his NFL Draft prospects. It also features McCarthy, a dual-threat passer, and a receiver who can ride over the top and open up the game.

TCU’s best shot is to turn this game into a shootout. You can’t have empty possessions no matter what and you have to let Michigan think of itself on third down. If Horned Frogs can steal one or two possessions, he’ll have what it takes to upset and advance to the national title.

But Michigan’s offense is the best college version of Harbaugh’s coaching career. This offensive line is better than last year. McCarthy is more talented than McNamara. Although Corum isn’t playing, Donovan Edwards’ long-term cap for running backs is higher, if not short-term.

If TCU turns this into a high score, Michigan can play like that. But Michigan can also win ugly. The Wolverines are more prepared for this moment than they were a season ago. The only thing standing between them and a rematch in Georgia (or a rematch against Ohio State) is America’s Scrappyest Club, led by a modern-day Jim Harbaugh clone.

Folks, time is a flat circle.

(Photo by Jerome Milon/USA Today)

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